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Ohio State vs. Iowa 2013: Game Preview

Key Factors


by Adam Jacobi

Braxton Miller is still there at QB for Ohio State, and he is going to do Braxton Miller Things and they are going to make you want to punch whatever's in arm's reach. Do not punch the loved ones or pets. In fact only sturdy, inanimate objects, please. Miller has made fools of better defenders than Iowa's, after all, and he's probably going to do it again a few times on Saturday.

That's not to say that we're expecting a 300-yard passing, 200-yard rushing performance from Miller, though. Iowa's linebackers are fast and disciplined enough that containing Miller is a plausible task... most of the time. But every now and then, Braxton will rip off a play that reminds you why he's one of the best in the nation, and all you can do is shrug and hope it wasn't a touchdown, then get right back to it. So it goes with a dynamic QB facing your team.

And lastly, you need to know that this is a 17-point spread according to Vegas, but this game could plausibly go about 28 points in either direction. An Iowa win is not impossible; if the weather stays crummy and windy throughout the afternoon, as appears to be the case now, Ohio State won't be able to victimize Iowa through the air as easily--and when we're talking about an Iowa defense for whom nine of its 11 allowed touchdowns came on pass plays over 20 yards, anything that slows an opposing air attack is good news. Both teams will likely be playing a lot of ogreball on Saturday, and while Ohio State probably beats Iowa on that front, at least it's a game being played more or less on Iowa's terms.

If Ohio State can throw reliably, however, look out; Iowa's secondary is thin at corner and slow in back, so playmakers like Devin Smith and Corey Brown could easily have a field day for the Buckeyes--and I don't even want to think about Dontre Wilson and what happens if he gets into the open field against Iowa's back four.

But this could be a close game! A win may be too much to ask, but with any luck it'll be four quarters of tension, and barring a 90-point win, that's pretty much all you can ask for.

Originally appeared at Black Heart Gold Pants

Ohio State

by Chris Kopech

The Ohio State Buckeyes welcome the Iowa Hawkeyes to the Horseshoe on Saturday, the Buckeyes' first game since back-to-back-to-back wins over ranked Wisconsin, ranked Northwestern, and upstart program BYE WEEK. So far, the Buckeyes are unscathed through their first six games for the second consecutive season.

Even with extremely high expectations going into Urban Meyer's second year as head coach, the script was supposed to be easy: Braxton Miller was a Heisman darling at the beginning of the year, and Kenny Guiton was only going to see the field in garbage time. Bradley Roby was supposed to shore up a top-10 draft pick as a shutdown corner. Jordan Hall was supposed to come back from an injury-plagued 2012 and possibly become the first 1,000 yard back Meyer has ever coached.

After six games, that script needs a pretty drastic rewrite.

Instead, this Buckeye team is one that has a few more questions than answers, and, again, while it has not been the shakiest of rides thus far, Ohio State has already dropped from a national #2 ranking, with a course set for Alabama in the final BCS Championship Game ever, to sitting behind other undefeated teams, hoping for and needing some luck along the way to make that dream of playing for a national title a reality.

Luckily for the Buckeyes, the Hawkeyes have almost always provided an able target for righting the ship.

Ohio State has taken 11 of the last 12 meetings against Iowa, including the last three in a row. They also have the benefit of Meyer's 34-2 record overall coaching record when given more than a week to prepare for an opponent, including his time at Bowing Green, Utah and Florida. This certainly bodes well for the Buckeyes, coming off of the aforementioned bye week. That rest will also hopefully serve to mend some injuries in the starting lineup, particularly to Jordan Hall, who has been nursing a "tweaked knee" that limited him to just one carry against Wisconsin, and no playing time against Northwestern.

Those are big factors for the Buckeyes, but the key factor may be the type of start the quick-strike Buckeyes get out to on Saturday. Ohio State is the highest scoring offense in the conference (46.8 ppg), and have outscored their opposition 126-28 in the first quarter of games this year. Iowa is primarily a running team, much like Wisconsin, and if the Buckeyes can get off to a fast start, it will force Iowa to go to the air to win, which might end up as the difference, with Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock already throwing six interceptions against just eight touchdowns through the air.

Where Iowa can do damage is on the ground. Mark Weisman (624 total yards, 3 TDs) and Rudock (4.5 ypc, 5 TDs) pose the biggest threats in the Iowa run game. Pro-style running games aren't that bad on the Buckeyes (see: the Wisconsin game) but throwing a few wrinkles into that game, like having a quarterback that can be mobile when necessary, can be a struggle (see: the Northwestern game). Containing the Iowa rushing attack will probably be the difference between a close game in the 'Shoe and a comfortable victory for Ohio State.

Cast of characters

by Chris Kopech and RossWB

Braxton Miller

Against Northwestern, Miller had probably his worst game on paper and on the field, going just 15-26 for 203 yards, no TDs and two fumbles. That performance alone likely takes him out of the running for the Heisman, but hopefully serves as a wake up call to the junior, who knows that Kenny Guiton, the best backup quarterback/jazz saxophonist in the country, can lead the offense in his stead. Carlos Hyde was the workhorse the last two games, piling up 253 yards and three scores, but Iowa boasts the conference's third best rushing defense, so the spotlight will be on Miller to make the magic happen on offense.

Bradley Roby

Even with the high bar on Miller being a the Heisman Trophy, the more unrealistic bar set before the season started might have been on the junior cornerback. Roby came back to Columbus after low draft grade last year, and has thus far, especially against Wisconsin and Northwestern, looked anything but shutdown. He was picked on against the Badgers by Jared Abbrederis (10 rec, 207 yards, TD) and against the Wildcats by Rashad Lawrence (8 rec, 149 yards). Granted, those have been the best players Roby lined up against this year, but he must hear the whispers in Columbus by now, and needs a big game to get his season and his potential NFL career back on the right track.

Joey Bosa

The freshman defensive lineman from Fort Lauderdale received plenty of hype over the last two weeks and gets the start on the defensive line for the first time in his young career. But the kid is easily living up to that hype with his strength (he can apparently do 30 reps at 225 lbs on the bench BRO DO YOU EVEN LIFT?) and ability (quoth Urban Meyer: "Some guys are real strong, but they don’t use it. But [Joey] is a long-levered guy, and you can tell"). His play will help determine if the Buckeyes remain one of the few teams who haven't given up a 100-yard rusher this year. He (and the rest of the defense) will have their work cut out for them against Iowa and Weisman, who already has four 100+ yard performances on the year.

Mark Weisman

A bruising bowling ball of a back who's proven to be a pretty solid bell cow: 624 yards on 126 carries. What he lacks in speed, he makes up for in physicality and the ability to grind out additional yards after contact. Iowa will mix in other faces in the rushing game --Damon Bullock has been Weisman's primary backup this year (65 carries, 256 yards), but Jordan Canzeri (24 carries, 115 yards) and LeShun Daniels, Jr. (19 carries, 84 yards) might see a few carries as well. (Or not: they saw no action in Iowa's loss to Michigan State a few weeks ago.)

Jake Rudock

Rudock is a new face at QB, but he's one that Iowa fans are quickly warming up to. He's already thrown more touchdown passes than last year's starter, James Vandenberg, managed (an admittedly paltry total of 7 TDs) and his composure and ability to shake off mistakes has been impressive. I think arguably his two best performances this year have come in Iowa's two road games (at Iowa State, at Minnesota), so I'm optimistic that he won't be too overwhelmed by Ohio Stadium on Saturday

Damond Powell

Iowa's main explosive threat in the passing game is JUCO transfer Damond Powell, whose role in the offense has slowly been getting ramped up each week. Despite playing far fewer snaps (and having only 6 catches), he's managed to equal Martin-Manley in receiving yards (225). He has the sort of speed that Iowa very rarely has at the wide receiver position, which is an exciting proposition.